US biotechnology group Genzyme saw its third-quarter profit jump 18% after better-than-expected performances by some of its drugs for rare diseases drove revenues over Wall Street forecasts.

“We are having an excellent year," commented Henri Termeer, Genzyme's chairman and chief executive officer. "The commitment we've made to invest in the company and to diversify is clearly making an impact. We are delivering outstanding financial results consistently from quarter to quarter, while at the same time building a platform for future growth by investing in our broad research and development pipeline, expanding our global infrastructure, and acquiring new products."

Genzyme generated earnings of $115.7 million, or $0.43 a share, for the period, marking a substantial leap from $97.8 million, or $0.41 per share, recorded for the year-ago quarter. Excluding extraordinary charges, the firm would have booked income of $160.5 million, or $0.61 per share.

Income was driven by a 24% jump in sales to $708.1 million, marking what seems to be becoming a bit of a trend for the firm as, once again, revenues significantly overshot the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson of $699.2 million.

Leading sales growth were particularly strong performances by: Renagel (sevelamer hydrochloride), which turned in $106.9 million, up 15%; the Gaucher disease therapy Cerezyme (imiglucerase for injection), growing 14% to $238.2 million; and Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta), an enzyme replacement therapy for Fabry disease, rising 36% to $79.1 million.

Genzyme’s Nasdaq-traded shares were up $1.06 at $70.38 in morning trading on October 18, but settled down after a day of heavy exchange at $69.45. The group has maintained its full-year outlook, predicting net earnings of $1.75-$1.80 per share, or $2.20-$2.25, excluding special items.